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Department of Natural Resources

Illinois Exotic Species:
Catnip Nepeta cataria

Catnip is a perennial herb. Its square stems help to identify it as a member of the mint family. The stalked, arrow-shaped leaves have toothed edges. These simple leaves are arranged opposite each other on the stem. Pale purple or white flowers with purple dots are crowded together at the stem tip. Flowers have five petals. The fruit is a nut. Catnip may grow from six to 24 inches tall. This plant's minty odor is attractive to cats.

Catnip may be found throughout Illinois. It grows along railroad tracks and roads, in fields and in open woods. Flowers are produced from June through September. Catnip is a native of Europe that was transported to the United States with early settlers and has spread tremendously.

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